Our Humanity: The Price To Pay For Technological Advancement?

in #steemstem4 years ago

Okay the title of the post did not sound too right but you will understand why I chose it as you read on. You will agree with me that most things of value or worth will normally come with a price tagged to it. Have you ever wondered what the price of the insane technological advancement we have been witnessing (particularly in cybernetics) will be? What if all these will be at the expense of our humanity? Let's find out.


Before this era of practical advancements in cybernetics, the only place we used to catch a glimpse of all these was in sci-fi movies. However, in this ers, it seems like these science fictions are fast turning into science facts. A few years back, I read about the story of Neil Harbisson - he was born without the ability to detect some colours. In the long run, he opted for a surgical procedure where a cybernetic antenna was implanted from his brain right through his skull. With this antenna, he could literally "hear" colours as vibrations and he could detect some colour shades that are beyond the natural human limit. Someone might say "cool; problem solved". But really! At what price does this augmentation come? This is not to talk about the fact that it has given him unfair advantage over non-augmented humans. Okay let's look at how the process of cybernetic augmentation has affected the course of humanity.

[Neil Harbisson and his cybernetic antenna implant. Recognized as a true cyborg. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Author: Dan Wilton. CC BY 2.0 Licensed]


I recently saw a 2018 sci-fi movie; "Upgrade". In the movie, a particular chip called "STEM" was implanted into a quadriplegic man just to help him regain the function of his limbs. But do you know what? At a point, after a hack was done to the chip, it went rogue and started controlling the host. It was like it evolved with a mind of its own. Okay this may look fictional, but so did other technologies that we have today once looked fictional at some point.

Whether we believe it or not, the human biological body is very limited, both in cognitive functions, physical strength, etc. This, definitely, is the major reason people are working to augment these limitations and to produce desired species. Prior to the advent of technology, the major changes in the early human species (hominids) was caused by evolution, which was almost a natural process. However, in this era, technology is now seen to have more effect than even the natural causes.

I once told a friend a few years ago that "very soon, humans will have the ability to create and re-create other human species through technology". This statement was opposed at that time, but here we are in this era, on the brink of achieving this. Maybe I will remind us again of this experiment where genetic editing was done right in a foetus inside the womb. Really! I mean, this is just like permanently editing a human specie before they are even born - if this isn't a pointer to the fact that we are already creating our own desired species, then what is it? Imagine if this kind of technology goes mainstream, humans can genetically edit a foetus to create a human born without fear, without emotions (the very attribute that makes us human), with super strength, etc. Would I be right to infer that technology is already superimposing (or rather; being favoured) over biology? This reminded me of the post by our dear @abigail-dantes and the comment I raised there about technology taking over the wheels.

Elon Musk once made a remark about how all these augmentations may lead to battle for supremacy. But I will like to add that; it will breed contention between the augmented and non-augmented humans. If you are a sports fan, then the name "Oscar Pistorius" will ring a bell. He's a sprinter from South Africa but he is an amputee with attached carbon-fibre blades. Take a look at this video clip of his performance before reading on.

[Video Credit: CBS News]. Please you may view this on Steemit or Steempeak if it is not optimised in your DApp

Oscar once participated in Olympics (not only in paralympics for amputees). In his Olympics, he put up a shocking and outstanding performance and even out-ran people that had un-augmented limbs. On closer analysis, it was discovered that his pair of blades acted like micro-springs and gave him a boost while running. Also, the blade was designed in a way that it absorbs the runner's weight while compressing the blade, then quickly converting the potential energy of the blade (now acting like a spring) to kinetic energy. They saw this as an unfair advantage [ref] (it is no surprising that people called his blades "cheetah's legs"). When they found out about this unfair advantage, they also refused another blade runner; Markus Rehm from competing. Does this not tell you that the contention has begun?

Prior to this era, biological changes were seen as something natural, but apparently, with the arrival of technology, biology is now manipulatable. From the examples of Neil Harbisson and Oscar Pistorius that I cited earlier, you would have figured out one thing: Before now, the only use of prosthetics (including cybernetics) was to replace a non-functional or missing body part, but from what we have seen so far, these prosthetics have not only functioned as replacement for missing body part but have given the augments unnatural advantage over the un-augmented humans. That's the kind of world we are currently in.

Let me paint a clear picture with this illustration: Imagine if y'all are in a race (maybe the one that involves climbing mountains) and all of a sudden, boom!! one of the competitors mounts on an helicopter and flies to the finishing line. Okay that's unfair right? Now imagine the fairness of living in the same world with Transhumans (heavily augmented humans), having the same exams with them, competing with them in sports, etc... okay where is the fairness in that? Augmentation has now been proven not to be meant for therapeutic uses only but to upgrade human biological bodies (bio-enhancement) - Just like the case of Viktoria Modesta. She willingly opted for her leg to be surgically removed and replace with cybernetics; making her a fully recognized cyborg.

I remember few months back, I made mention of Brain-computer interface and Human-machine interface in some of my posts and how scientists are working to seamlessly link the human body with machines. It may interest you to know that, as the day passes, our relationships, interaction and our bond with our devices increase. This is so evident that humans are clearly and practically becoming more mechanical, while machines, on the other hands are tilting towards becoming more human. Here's the irony here; humans are getting augmented to circumvent the limitations of our biological bodies (and literally becoming less humans) but machines; with Artificial Intelligence; are incorporating consciousness to becoming self-aware. You can read about Project Alexandria or Sophia the humanoid robot to have a glimpse of this.

[Sophia the humanoid robot, with self-awareness and other relational abilities. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Author: ITU. CC BY 2.0 Licensed]


This may fall into the grey area, but I will state that enhancement is not only when you get a robotic arm or robotic antenna. Think about this; you take sexual enhancers (like Viagra) to give yourself sexual boost, you use steroids to grow your muscles, etc. While doing all these, do you stop for a moment to think that this is part of enhancement?

In a few years from now, how many un-augmented humans do you think will be around in proportion to augmented humans? A particular prediction was made by a very respected and renowned futurist; Ray Kurzweil. He gave the roadmap to the dawn of technological singularity [ref]. Even though things may not align exactly to his prediction, but it does not take away the fact that a point when humans will merge with machines is fast approaching: this might be the birth of Singularity, where the human population will be a sum total of the different computational devices that were interfaced with them.

[Image from Pixabay. CC0 Licensed]


One major concern people have in this advancement is the need to merge with machines. Some proponents of emerging technology (the likes of Elon Musk, the late Stephen Hawking, etc) have predicted that a merger between humans and machines is inevitable. Come to think of it; "privacy" might cease to exist, because your thoughts and mind would have been interfaced with machines.

More so, when humans start merging with machines and computational devices, one thing would be inevitable: There will be conflict between the humans and the individual devices that make them up and also between other augmented humans for supremacy and superiority in technology. One thing this will make humans is to draw them away from "humanity" (dehumanization) - just like in the movie "Alita" (I know @lemouth does not watch movies but he will like this). I got a clip from it, enjoy.

[Video credit: AniBox Trailer]

Let's look at a flip side of this. Imagine if something goes wrong and this cybernetics go awry. Or maybe they finally evolve with consciousness or self-awareness (like what happened in "Upgrade"), the device that were meant to aid humans or to become their allies may start to act in opposite function.

Okay imagine if these techs fall into the wrong hands. It might just be a scenario where humans will begin to be colonized by machines, just like some African countries were colonized by Europeans. If you have read about the history of colonialism, you will agree with me that colonialism brought many dark sides with it, like civil conflict, slavery, etc. Imagine if this same effect gets replicated, but not in the hands of humans but in the hands of machines, what chances do the un-augmented humans have to survive?


A friend of mine once said that humans have paid bigger prices for other things and he would not mind paying his "humanity" for technology. This statement might seem like a fair choice but in the real sense of it, it is only certain that there are obvious prices to be paid with the insane advancement of technology. The limitation of the human body is the top reason people have tilted towards augmentation and not just purely as therapeutic uses. The truth is; whatever we think we have seen in the field of technology (both in cybernetics and others) is nothing compared to what the future will definitely bring to us. Here's a little spoiler alert for you: A period will come when it may be difficult to differentiate between humans and machines.

> References for further reading:

If you’re in the field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, you can join SteemSTEM community in the discord:

gif by @foundation


I didn't see the movie you mentioned (and I won't watch the video from the office, even during my lunch break :p)

Honestly, I do not know what to think of all of that. If this is where we go, well fine. But I have concerns: this should be regulated. Will non-augmented humans be considered as the "inferior race"? This would ring some alarm bells and I would prefer all of this to be clarified before hand.

But I have concerns: this should be regulated.

Exactly my point. There's still time to regulate these technologies and to define their limits. But how will this work?

Will non-augmented humans be considered as the "inferior race"?

Obviously this should be expected. Even in evolution, for example, survival is almost always based on the best fitted (survival of the best fitted). In the case of this technology, augmented humans may be better fitted and definitely favoured for survival (because the standard of survival might be raised so high) and the others may be seen as inferior race.

Thanks for coming around sir

The "how to:" is very unclear, but it is very timely to define this now. After, it may be too late (and this is were problems may arise.

Have you seen by any chance this movie called "Gattaca"?

In the case of this technology, augmented humans may be better fitted and definitely favoured for survival (because the standard of survival might be raised so high) and the others may be seen as inferior race

I am not so convinced of that. The timescales behind evolution are such that there is actually no way to predict the outcome. This is at least my opinion.

I agree with you. It's better all these are addressed now, but only if politics will not interfere with it.

I've not seen the movie "Gattaca" but I just googled it. It's a 1997 film. I'll look out for it. Thanks a lot sir

Me being the one recommending movies to you... The world is upside down tonight :D

Hahaha. You got me there sir. I actually had this same thought though. Looks like the world moved in reverse this night :D

Like the Reverse Flash? :D

More like Savitar :)

Y. Noah urges governments to begin to pay attention to this. He claims that if such issues are not looked into sooner than later, similar to what you suggested, humans will become first the "useless class" and then, the obsolete race :/

As said in my new comment above, it is better to treat a problem before it comes one... But then. politics...

Interesting post, @samminator. With my background in humanities I bring perhaps a different perspective. You speak of colonialism, of the possibility that machines will colonize humans. I think of something even more imaginable...enhanced humans dominating those who are not enhanced. The privileged, who can afford enhancement, subjugating the lower classes who cannot afford this. The technology already exists for people to "enhance" their offspring, to choose the kind of child they want to have in order to insure a superior outcome. How far from that practice is the one of technical enhancement? It is the logical next step.
Of course we consider legislation. Who will be legislating? People with privilege. Are they likely to deny themselves advantages, or will they find a rationale for allowing people to buy enhancements? Already markets exist for buying organs in some parts of the world, and proposals for this practice have been put forth in the US (and other countries).
A very provocative and important blog. Thank you, @samminator.

You have raised some very valid concerns buddy. Obviously, those that can afford enhancements will want to impose superiority over those that cannot. Weirdly, these people that can afford it is also meant to be ones legislating and putting standards for the usage of enhancements. Like you rightly pointed out, they will not want to take away that advantage from themselves.
Believe me, this is just very minor compared to what is coming. Imagine a world were humans will literally be mechanical.

Thanks a lot for coming around buddy

My pleasure. Often, the real-life consequences of science are overlooked in the pursuit of knowledge. We need to think about these things (coming to mind is the search for fission and the hunt for the bomb). You are doing that. What good is science if it brings tragedy?

Sammi, how nice to see you posting about technology! It has been a little while.

You have managed to pack so much information here, it's quite overwhelming actually. Overwhelming because it doesn't look good for us! Am I right to be concerned about all of this?

About a future where humanity will be facing yet another kind of inequality. Where power and advantage will be taken to new levels? Levels where our humanity instead of being enhanced will be replaced by aspects that makes us less human? :/

I followed the link to read about Viktoria Modesta. I was interested in her attitude towards her disability, and her prosthetic limb. She feels empowered by it! Now, I am going to save the article about Sophia, to read later on :)

Thank you Sammi. It has been a fascinating read. So well written as always. And, of course, beautifully formatted!

Much love to you from Portugal :*

Thanks a lot dearest Abbey.

My major concern about this is the fact that some of these machines and cybernetics are controlled by codes which can be hacked and can cause havoc to the entire human race.
Have you seen the movie Terminator (Rise of the Machines, and Judgment Day)? Imagine what will happen when "self-awareness" becomes a thing in machines, they could have their own free will and humans may begin to feel obsolete.

I once read about an AI that is designed to program other AIs, imagine what will happen in the future.

It looks like the inequality that will be faced by humans will be based on superiority in technology.

Much love from Sunny Nigeria, dear Abbey.

Thank you for this thoughtful reply Sammi :* :)

Before the Humans discover their potential
as godly Mind, Body and Soul Units (mostly because
everybody sould their soul...some for a smartphone,
or they never had/discovered their soul or who "they"
"you" really are)....
...they walk straight into the "Technology Trap"
Peace and listen to my song(s;)

Great Post! Some excellent food for thought.
Along the same lines of thought In his books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, Yuval Harari believes advances in Technology is creating a new class of Useless humans and that these advances will create yet larger inequalities than we have now. Those that can afford augmentation and those who cannot.
download.jpg homodeus.jpg

Thanks a lot buddy. I think I'll need to get this book and go through it. I've heard a lot about Yuval Noah

This post has been voted on by the SteemSTEM curation team and voting trail. It is elligible for support from @curie and @minnowbooster.

If you appreciate the work we are doing, then consider supporting our witness @stem.witness. Additional witness support to the curie witness would be appreciated as well.

For additional information please join us on the SteemSTEM discord and to get to know the rest of the community!

Thanks for having used the steemstem.io app and included @steemstem in the list of beneficiaries of this post. This granted you a stronger support from SteemSTEM.

Congratulations @samminator! You have completed the following achievement on the Steem blockchain and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

You published more than 800 posts. Your next target is to reach 850 posts.

You can view your badges on your Steem Board and compare to others on the Steem Ranking
If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

To support your work, I also upvoted your post!

Vote for @Steemitboard as a witness to get one more award and increased upvotes!

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.27
TRX 0.11
JST 0.033
BTC 43221.43
ETH 2351.75
USDT 1.00
SBD 5.16